Stories by KAYODE AJIBOYE
The Rector, Olawoyin Awosika School of Innovative Studies, Prof Abiola Awosika, has lamented the state of the nation’s education sector which she noted was being faced with a plethora of problems.
Speaking with journalists recently, the don noted that “our problems are many” adding that “I shudder when I think of what we need to do to overhaul this educational system”.
She listed some of the problems as the reduction of the pass mark of the Joint Administration and Matriculation Board (JAMB) score.
“We lowered the JAMB scores again this year; 180 for universities and 130 for colleges of education and polytechnics” she said insisting that “we should not water down the system.
“But if we are not going to use JAMB, lets task the universities and colleges of education to have solid curricula that will build up solid people, especially for the college of education” she said.
She however added that those with an E pass can be allowed entry into the colleges of education noting that “there is nothing wrong with it; but we have to have a curriculum to back those people up when they show up, so that it’s just not theoretical but we are giving them solid foundation on how to teach, what to teach”.
Prof Awosika berated the fact that S75 ( a certificate given to candidates who fail the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) ) holders “are teaching in the senior section of our secondary schools” noting that “Ekiti to be specific has that issue”.
She also frowned at the fact that education is the last resort for school and work applicants insisting that “it shouldn’t be that way because people teaching our students should be excellent, stellar individuals but we are putting our dregs where we need to put the top ones”.
She argued that the Nigerian education should be tailored to the system obtainable in Finland because they picked the best of their best, made them to teach in a fashion where the students were not only learned enough to pass their examinations and also abolished the standardised examinations.
“And when they tested this out with the rest of the world, they beat everybody else. They beat the United States of America, they beat Norway because teachers are special and are paid like their contemporaries in oil companies” she said.
She advised that “we flush out the ones that are not supposed to be in our educational system; any teacher that is not qualified to be there should not be there” adding that “let’s find them something else to do because the future of this country is too special for that”
Prof Awosika also assured Nigerians that the recommendations reached at the 20th National Economic Summit Group’s conference on Education is still being worked on and described the appointment of former Kano State governor, Ibrahim Shekarau, as the Minister of Education as “a step in the right direction”.
She noted that the committee members are still working to ensure that recommendations made in the subsectors are eventually implemented but noted that “it will take a lot of support for that to be achieved, from the Ministry of the Education and the Federal Government.
“Unfortunately, time is running out till 2015but we are hoping we and get some low hanging fruits before the next election because a lot rides on that” she said.
She allayed fears of discontinuance of the recommendations should there be a change in the leadership of the government noting that the organisation is set up to give continuity on any project, whether it is agriculture, education or health and make sure “they sit on it through any kind of government changeover”
She said part of the recommendation at the summit, though not clearly spelt out, was to have “someone who could do the job” of overseeing Nigeria’s educational system.
“Someone with a background and qualified to do the job. I think appointing the new minister (Ibrahim Shekarau) is a step in the right direction, because no matter what we put out there as recommendations, if we do not have someone on that seat who is fit for purpose, who is committed to education that is fit for purpose, then we would have done it in vain” she said.
“The new minister has had a lot of time in the ministry and has been in education for a long time and so hopefully that is a step in the right direction” she added.
This year’s National Economic Summit, which focused solely on the education sector, was declared open by President Goodluck Jonathan.
“The decision to hold the Summit on education was taken to address the decline in a sector that is critical to economic development,” said Frank Nweke Jnr, Director-General of the NESG.
“The Nigerian education sector is in dire straits, and requires both public and private sector intervention, if the country is to fulfil its potential as not only a regional powerhouse, but as a global player”, he added.